Dr. Jenny Barker: Rohrich Family Excellence in Plastic Surgery Award

Jenny Barker
Dr. Jenny Barker

By Lin Lofley

It’s not unusual to find a UT Southwestern Medical School graduate who comes from a family of doctors. Dr. Jenny Barker has a slightly different story: “I was surrounded by a family of nurses as a child, which undoubtedly had an impact on my decision to pursue a career in health care.”

Dr. Barker, who graduates from the Medical Scientist Training Program with an M.D./Ph.D. dual degree, is the recipient of the 2014 Rohrich Family Excellence in Plastic Surgery Award, and will begin a residency in integrated plastic and reconstructive surgery at The Ohio State University.

“Jenny is a big thinker and takes an out-of-the-box approach to her research,” said Dr. Kathryn Davis, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery. “She is a rising star and will surely be one of the greats in plastic surgery research.”

The Rohrich Family Excellence in Plastic Surgery Award recognizes a student who demonstrates superior dedication and achievement in research and clinical work. It was created to honor the parents of Dr. Rod Rohrich, Chairman of Plastic Surgery.

A native of Belton, Dr. Barker earned a degree in biology and chemistry from M.I.T. prior to joining the MSTP program, a grueling eight-year journey.

“When we started, the MSTP director provided us with sage advice: ‘You can’t view this program as a means to an end’,” Dr. Barker recalled. ‘“Rather, the time spent here is a journey in and of itself.’”

Along the way, she added a partner. Dr. Adam Barker was in the first month of his internship in general surgery when they met. The couple married in 2010, and on Match Day, when Dr. Jenny Barker matched with the plastic surgery program at Ohio State, Dr. Adam Barker was out of town taking his oral boards.

“I’m not sure who had more anxiety that day,” she said. Her husband is completing his fellowship in colorectal surgery and weighing multiple offers in the Columbus, Ohio, area where his wife will train.

Dr. Barker came to her chosen specialty through a simultaneous interest in clinical plastic surgery and wound care, as well as the research component of her doctoral program: “The tissue engineering and basic science of wound healing drew me in, but the mentoring that was available in the Department of Plastic Surgery was critical.

“Mentorship is paramount in pursuing a surgical career,” she said, adding that the experience left her intending to integrate both teaching and mentorship in her career.